52 Ancestors #7: My Daughter’s Namesake, Phoebe Douglas

I’m not sure when I decided I would name my daughter Phoebe … it was certainly LONG before she was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye.  By all accounts, Phoebe Douglas was a strong and strong-willed woman and I wanted my daughter to embody that spirit. It seemed fitting she would embody the name, too. Now, we call her Grandma Phoebe to differentiate between the generations. 

Fariba Matilda Douglas

Fariba Matilda (Phoebe) Douglas was born on September 12, 1880 to Winfield Scott and Margaret Ellen (Lindsey Wolf) Douglas. She was born in Pomona, Illinois. She married Albert James Rains (1877-1957) on March 2, 1900. Together, they had 9 children:

  • Anna Toleta (Leta, 1900-1986)
  • Floyd (1904-1960)
  • Golda Viola (1906-1983)
  • Kenneth (1909-1984)
  • Mary Margaret (1912-1919)
  • Paul Milford (1916-1920)
  • James (Raines, 1919-2008, my maternal grandfather)
  • Evelyn (Sissy, 1921-1993)
  • Wilburn Jefferson (Peck, 1925-1988)

When Phoebe and Albert were first married, they lived on a farm near Murphysboro, Illinois. By the time of her death on May 20, 1932, the family had moved inside Murphysboro and no longer owned the farm.

From Fariba to Phoebe

Phoebe Douglas Birth

Phoebe’s Birth Certificate

I believe Phoebe was named after her paternal grandmother.  Scott Douglas (Phoebe’s daddy) was born to JD and Ferobe Douglas.  While Fariba is plainly clear on the above birth certificate, Ferobe isn’t so clear on any census records. I always figured both women were named Fariba in reality … but I can’t even begin to prove it!  Ferobe Douglas shows up as Feby in later census records, too.  My Grandpa told me several times that Albert referred to his wife as Ferby … I suspect that’s how Phoebe came about. I’ve seen her name spelled Phebe, Thebe, Phoebe, and Phobe.  I’ve seen Rains spelled as Raynes as well.  My grandpa switched from Rains to Raines as an adult, but that’s another story!

Phoebe Douglas 1900 Census

1900 Census, Phoebe ‘Raynes’ Rains

Confusing names aside, Phoebe gave birth to 9 children in 25 years. She lost two of those children at very young ages, one to pneumonia and the other in a house fire.  She almost always lived next to or down the road from her parents, and in later years, her mother. 

Phoebe Rains 1920 Census

1920 Census, Phoebe Rains. Notice her mother, Margaret Douglas in the next household.

Census records are interesting. You can see how families really did stay close to each other (at least mine did) and sometimes you can figure out how couples met each other … by virtue of proximity.

The tree branch, oh the tree branch 

In this case, I’m referring to a real tree and a real branch (not my family tree!).  One of the few photos I have of Grandma Phoebe was taken in 1919, the year my grandpa was born. 

Phoebe Rains and Leta Bradley

Phoebe Rains and daughter, Leta Bradley, 1919

I love this photo because Phoebe is pregnant with my grandpa, James Raines.  Standing next to her is Leta, her oldest child. Leta is also pregnant with her first child, Clarence … aka Buzz.  Grandpa and Buzz were born about 4 months apart and grew up as best buddies.  Notice the placement of the tree branch … neither wants to show a pregnant belly!

I can see my grandpa in Phoebe’s face in this photo. It’s like I’m looking right at him.  

One strong-willed Mama

My favorite story about Grandma Phoebe took place in the middle of the night when one of her older daughters came crying to her after having a fight with her new husband.  Phoebe basically told her to “buck up” and “get back home to that man”.  She was no-nonsense. This is just one of many stories I’ve heard that indicate how resilient she really was. 

I only knew her three youngest children, my grandpa, Aunt Sissy and Uncle Peck. The others were gone or had moved away by the time I came around.  All three were fiery red-heads. I think they … and I … got it from Grandma Phoebe!

Phoebe and Noodle

My mom wanted to name me Phoebe when I was born. Grandpa wouldn’t let her. He believed that children should have their own names.  After all, there had been MANY men named James in the Raines family.  Several of my mom’s cousins wanted to name daughters after Phoebe, too … she was loved, no doubt.  Grandpa was the patriarch of our family … and he never gave his blessing. I always thought it funny that the family even bothered to ask, but she was his Mama … and we asked. When I asked, he said yes.

Had he said no, I’m not sure whether I would have defied him or not, but I think he suspected I would.    

Honestly, I think he gave me his blessing in part because he knew I wanted Noodle to have every piece of me I could give her. That’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t adopted a child, her only child. To me, giving Noodle Phoebe’s name was akin to giving her my bloodline and everything that comes with it … I had no other way of providing that. Noodle doesn’t have red hair, but she’s definitely fiery! She gets it honestly. 

Looking at ggpa


Grandpa loved his babies.  This is Noodle, Phoebe, with him in the summer of 2006.  She wasn’t exactly talking yet, but they had many conversations about a lot of things … he told her stories about Grandma Phoebe, too. 



3 Replies to "52 Ancestors #7: My Daughter's Namesake, Phoebe Douglas"

  • 52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 7 Recap | No Story Too Small February 19, 2014 (6:59 am)

    […] – “My Daughter’s Namesake, Phoebe Douglas” by Niki Davis on Rooted in […]

  • comment-avatar
    Betty Rains Cochrane July 8, 2014 (8:20 pm)

    Hello, my name is Betty Rains Cochrane and I read with interest your story on James Madison Raines. I happen to have DNA matches with many Raines/Rains family members, but the one person who keeps coming up as a dual match is …tada…Margaret Copeland!
    Yours was the first article that I read from google this morning and, to my surprise, a possible family match leaped off the page right away.
    If you have any info. on William Henry Harrison Raines’s family, such as his parents, siblings, etc., I would be sooo very grateful. I have been searching for years and my brother, before his death, began the search. He traveled to many courthouses here in Tennessee to research. I have an earlier history of the family, but from John Raines/Rains? in N.C. to family in TN, it gets to W.H.H. Raines, we can’t locate the correct Wm. Raines in McNairy County, TN.

    • comment-avatar
      Niki Davis July 8, 2014 (11:11 pm)

      Hi Betty! I’ll dig around and see what I can find for you. I’ll also ask some of the Raines cousins who have more research on this line than I.

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